Product in focus: Experience days

Experience days are a way for employers to offer perks that help with team building and motivation, says David Woods.

Experience days can cover a wide range of activities such as spy games, paint balling or circus skills, to name just a few.

Employers that wish to offer such a perk have a number of options around how schemes can be tailored, so they should think carefully about what they want it to achieve. One option is to provide an experience day for a group of staff as a team-building event. This will enable employees to both enjoy the activities and have a break from the office, perhaps as a reward for hard work, or after an especially busy period. A group experience day can offer staff who have been under pressure, the chance to unwind away from the workplace, as well as boosting their morale and providing them with a bonding experience.

Alternatively, employers can reward staff with individual experiences as part of their motivation strategy, for example, in the form of a sales incentive or as a personal reward for a job well done. This could be anything from an afternoon of rally driving, to a night at a West End show or even a spa day. Paul O’Brian, managing director of Virgin Experience Days, says: “The beauty of experience days is that they are absolutely not necessary, but they show a bit of imagination and give employees an instant lift which lasts a long time in people’s minds and creates a buzz in the workplace.”

Patrick McAleenan, head of marketing for Red Letter Days, says they can have benefits for both employers and employees. “Experience days are an instant reward, but ultimately staff can take a lot from them. There is the potential to learn new skills, try an ambition, or just get a day out to do something with the family. Staff have the chance to do something they ordinarily wouldn’t do.”

Experience days can also be offered through a points-based scheme, where employees earn credits for achievements or their length of service. These can then be exchanged for an experience of their choice.

Experience days can be offered as part of a voluntary benefits scheme, or if there is a high enough demand from staff, through a flexible benefits plan.

Due to the large selection of options available, prices can vary from as little as £15 for London sightseeing trips, into hundreds of pounds for more extravagant activities. But as experience days often do not cost a great deal, employers’ tax responsibility may only be a few pounds, according to O’Brian.

Experience days also enable employers to give staff who have been working long hours quality time with their families. McAleenan says: “If organisations are offering something enjoyable for families to do outside of work, it can have positive implications for work-life balance.”

Fact file: Experience Days

What are experience days?
Experience days are awarded at an employers’ discretion and are a reward for an individual or a group of workers. These give employees the chance to take part in activities away from the working environment.

Who are the main providers?
• Red Letter Days
• Virgin Experience Days
• Buyagift